Syndication Ratings: In the Heart of Sweeps, Season Highs Are the Norm

Heading into the November sweep's final stretch, many syndicated shows -- including Disney-ABC's Katie, NBCUniversal's Steve Harvey and CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil -- hit new season highs.

Five of the top eight talkers and four of the seven magazines all notched personal bests in the week ended Nov. 18, with the November sweep coming to a close on Nov. 21. Among the closely-watched rookies, Disney-ABC's Katie beat its debut number with a series-high 2.1 live plus same day rating in households, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was up 17% from the prior week, and the biggest week-to-week improvement of any talk show. Katie also equaled its best numbers among all the key female demos.

Meanwhile, NBCUniversal's Steve Harvey advanced 8% to its own season-best 1.4, and jumped 11% among women 25-54 to a 1.0, only trailing Katie by one-tenth of a point in daytime's key demographic.

Among the rest of the rookies, CBS Television Distribution's Jeff Probst, Twentieth's Ricki Lake and NBCU's Trisha all were on par with the prior session at a 0.7, 0.7 and 0.5, respectively.

CTD's top talker, Dr. Phil, hit a new season-high 3.3, up 3% both for the week and the year. Phil also led among women 25-54, improving 5% to a first-place 2.0 in the key demo. Warner Bros.' Ellen overtook talk's usual second-place finisher, Disney-ABC's Live! with Kelly and Michael, for the first time since the week of Sept. 10, with a new season-high 2.7. That was up 4% from the prior week and up 8% from last year at this time. Live! posted a 2.6, even with that show's season average but off 7% from the prior week and 38% from the same week last year, which featured Regis Philbin's final appearance after 28 years of hosting the show.

NBCU's Maury hit a new season high, gaining 4% to a 2.5 and continued to lead the category among women 18-49 with a 1.6 and women 18-34 with a 1.4. Sony's Dr. Oz was one of only two talk shows to decline from the prior week, slipping 4% for the week and 14% for the year to a 2.4. CTD's Rachael Ray rallied 7% to a 1.6. NBCU's Jerry Springer spiked 14% to a new season-high 1.6, tying Rachael. NBCU's Steve Wilkos held steady at a 1.5, and showed the largest year-to-year improvement of any talk show, growing 15% from last year at this time. CTD's The Doctors was steady at a 1.4. Warner Bros.' Anderson Live! added 10% to a 1.1, tying Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams, which also added 10%. Debmar-Mercury's Jeremy Kyle was flat at a 0.6.

In other dayparts, CTD's late-night dating show, Excused, climbed 25% -- or one-tenth of a ratings point -- to a 0.5.

NBCU's Access Hollywood Live, which is not yet nationally rated, averaged a 1.0 rating/4 share in its 11 metered markets, off 9% from the previous week but still up 11% in households and up 17% among women 25-54 from the November 2011 sweep.

Warner Bros.' new interactive game show, Let's Ask America, grew 6% for the week to a 1.8/4 in its seven metered markets, including a 13% gain to a 4.5/7 in Cincinnati.

CTD's Judge Judy ruled the court-show roost with a 7.4 for the second consecutive week, and trumped everything in first-run syndication. CTD's Judge Joe Brown slipped 4% to a 2.3. Warner Bros.' People's Court ticked up 5% to a 2.0. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis moved up 6% to a new season-high 1.7. Twentieth's Divorce Court was flat at a 1.3, tying Twentieth's Judge Alex, which recovered 8%. Entertainment Studios' America's Court sank 11% to a 0.8. ES' newcomer Justice for All added 25% to a 0.5, and ES' We the People was flat at a 0.3.

CTD's Entertainment Tonight topped the magazines, adding 5% from the prior week to a new season-high 4.0. CTD's Inside Edition was unchanged at a 3.1. Warner Bros.' TMZ, which saw a double-digit surge in the previous session, eased 5% to a 1.9. NBCU's Access Hollywood stormed ahead 13% to a new season-high 1.8. Warner Bros.' Extra added 7% to a new season-high 1.6, tying CTD's The Insider, which climbed 14% to its own new season 1.6. Twentieth's rookie magazine, Dish Nation, improved 13% to a 0.9.

CTD's Wheel of Fortune led the games, edging ahead 3% from the prior week to a new season-high 7.2. CTD's Jeopardy! fell 2% to a 6.3. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud improved 2% to a new series-high 4.7. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire hit a new season-high 2.4, while GSN's newbie, Baggage, was flat at a 1.1.

Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory added 3% to top all of syndication with a new season-high 7.7. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men faded 5% to a 5.2. Twentieth's Family Guy strengthened 3% to a new season-high 3.9. Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother weakened 4% to a 2.5. Sony's Seinfeld soared 20% to a new season-high 2.4. Twentieth's King of the Hill was flat at a 2.1, tying Warner Bros.' Friends, which was improved 11% to a new season-high 2.1. CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond ratcheted up 5% to a 2.0.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.